At this week's Town Board meeting, we passed a resolution pertaining to the partial Federal government shutdown. We heard from our Assemblywoman Sandy Galef that the Assembly had passed a bill last week enabling Federal workers on furlough to get an extension on paying their property taxes, and we wanted to be sure we did everything we could to help. The Town Board passed a resolution allowing furloughed or non-pay federal employees or their spouses or domestic partners to get a 90 day extension to pay those taxes-- the 90 days begins when the shutdown ends. We understand Briarcliff School District passed a similar resolution last night at their meeting and anticipate the Ossining School District will do so as well. The state bill passed in the Senate on Wednesday, and we have every reason to believe the Governor will sign it. We just heard the news that the Federal Government is back up and running, yet anyone who was caused a hardship by this delay will still be able to take advantage of the extension. We wanted to be sure a resolution was passed so that, if we had the opportunity to help those folks working without a paycheck tread water a little longer, we could. We continue to be frustrated with our leadership at the national level that has necessitated this level of local response. I am sure I speak for the entire Town Board when I say I am glad we can shield our constituents, who are political pawns in this process, from the effects of this high level gameplay, even if only to this small degree.
Are you one of the families affected, or do you know someone having a rough time making ends meet? Trinity Episcopal Church at 7 South Highland Avenue will be hosting their Loaves and Fish Dinner tomorrow (Saturday, January 26th) at 5PM. All are welcome-- there is no religious component to this event. Dinner will be prepared by CIA chefs John Swift and Adam Rodriguez, and is free to all those who could use a warm, home-cooked meal.
Also, we received this information from the Ossining Micro Fund also looking to offer help: The Ossining Micro Fund is a nonprofit lender making small, interest-free loans for financial emergencies. If you are a Federal worker who has been furloughed or working without pay and in need of a bridge loan, the Ossining Micro Fund might be able to assist you. Please contact us at ossiningmicrofund.org.
A few of us lost bets this past weekend as the snow never really materialized, although we did get some icy spots and some mighty gusts of wind. Thanks to our Highway Department and our first responders, nonetheless, for being ready for the worst-- we would much rather this outcome than what was being predicted on the news! Extra special thanks to the Village and Town crews who responded to multiple water main breaks in the bitter cold, and were able to take care of them relatively quickly. We are blessed to have you.
However, I did get to enjoy some lovely celebrations here in Ossining since the roads were clear and so were the skies. On Saturday at the Cooperative Scholarship Fund of Ossining's Annual MLK Event, we honored Kadoza “Woody” Worthy posthumously for all his good work for the Village and School district, and our community as a whole for his many years of volunteerism, Mary Rainey, the Executive Director of WestCOP and for all the good work she has done with that organization, and for shepherding her wonderful grandson, Andre Rainey, in this world who is now the mayor of Peekskill and was also the keynote speaker, and finally Bill Broadnax, who has been a critical member of our Ossining Community for his good work in the Ossining Library, with the NAACP and beyond. Student performances were also wonderful, courtesy of Ossining High School’s Gimme The Mic. On Sunday night, the Briarcliff Ossining Ministerial Association hosted a remembrance ceremony in honor of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Congregation Sons of Israel where we heard from clergy representing many different religious sects, as well as from the Briarcliff High School Choir, as we contemplated the many messages of Dr. King and how we can use them today to inform our actions.
On Sunday morning, Mayor Gearity and I, along with Corrections Officers from Sing Sing and members of the Board of the Sing Sing Prison Museum, had the privilege of greeting some special guests.
The former Mayor of Limerick, Honorable Joe Harrington and his wife, who were interested in their connection to Sing Sing Correctional facility which they discovered as they have been working on a restoration project of an old School house in Lyreacrompane, came for a visit. Apparently a former student of their school served on the staff of Sing Sing in the 1800s. Thanks to CO Arthur Wolpinsky for organizing their warm welcome with Mayor Gearity. I was very proud to welcome the Harringtons and their guests to Ossining, they were so grateful that the snow did not prevent them from seeing the beautiful sights here!
This past Tuesday, the Town Board held our legislative session at the Courthouse, and we passed a few resolutions that I want to be sure to share with you. One very important one was a bond resolution that will allow us to purchase five trucks for our Highway, Parks and Cemetery departments. Our fleet trends a little older than most other municipalities, and these plow trucks take a beating. We are able to piggyback on other municipal contracts to save the expense of going out to bid, and most of the trucks in this bond will be purchased under a contract with Onondaga County in upstate New York. Following the permissive referendum period, we will let you know when we expect to make the purchases and will hopefully have a quick turnaround time (although I know I'm not the only one who is hoping we're done with snow for the season!)
Looking ahead, we have a few interesting Town meetings coming up. On Tuesday, February 5th, the Town Board will hold a Work Session and Special Meeting at 16 Croton Avenue, and one of the major topics on the agenda will be a discussion of Project Forward. As you may recall, we received a grant from the NYS Department of State to start looking at some specific ways we believe that the Town could see efficiencies in our operating budgets, which at this time would involve changing the elected offices of Highway Superintendent, Town Clerk, and Receiver of Taxes from elected to appointed roles. We hired a consultant, who helped us to craft a website with some background information and a survey to get the temperature of our residents on the ideas we're proposing. The survey results were largely in favor of learning more about these proposals, and we held two information sessions at the Ossining Public Library last week (see video from both sessions here). Our next step in the process is to flesh out the proposals a bit more while we continue to solicit community feedback-- on February 5th, we will share with the Board what we discussed in the two group sessions and what feedback we received, and decide what the next step in the process may be. I hope you will join us for this important conversation.
Yesterday, I attended a press conference for one of my favorite annual local events, Eaglefest!
Eaglefest, scheduled for Saturday, February 9th, is a great way to learn more about these beautiful birds that were saved from extinction as well as how we can all be stewards of the environment to help protect such wonderful creatures as these who thrive in the Hudson Valley. One of my absolute favorite activities at Eaglefest is following Scott Craven through Croton Point Park to spot eagles but also to learn about some of the local history. Scott is now our Town Historian and stopped by recently to say the historic wine cellars up there are going to be open for examination, which is even more of a reason to buy your tickets now! There is so much to do for the whole family: films, music, crafts, walks, an opportunity to meet birds of prey up close (we got to meet Nova at the press conference!), if you’ve never been, you do not want to miss it! You can purchase your tickets at https://www.teatown.org/events/eaglefest/.
Today, the Town submitted a shared services Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund grant with the Village of Ossining to develop a new inactive records storage facility and hire temporary inventory clerks to assist in inventorying and organizing the records of several Town and Village departments – a grant request of just under $150,000. Right now, most of our records are stored in the attic at 16 Croton, which is not an ideal location for storing records because of several accessibility, safety, and environmental concerns. This grant would allow the Town and Village to purchase new shelving and outfit some basement space at the John-Paul Rodrigues Operations Center to become our new records storage space. Also, as a part of this grant, the Town/Village Clerk will be working on a shared records management plan, which will help us update our records management program for the 21st century, addressing digitization, electronic records, and other concerns. If we receive this funding, the project will begin in July. Keep your fingers crossed that we will have some good news about this grant opportunity in a few months. Thanks to Victoria Cafarelli for her leadership on this effort.
Tax collection on the 3rd floor of 16 Croton Avenue has started to pick up speed, as the 2nd half of Ossining and Briarcliff Manor school district taxes is due by January 31st, which is this coming Thursday. If you choose to pay in person, the Tax Office is open regular hours (8:30AM- 4:30PM) on Monday (the 28th) and Tuesday (the 29th), and will be open extended hours, until 6PM, on Wednesday (the 30th) and Thursday (the 31st). You can also pay your bill online, which is an easy and inexpensive way to get instant proof that your payment was received (subject to collection from your bank) for the $1.50 e-check. As of last fall, you can use the dedicated postal slot at the Ossining Post Office, which will get your bill delivered to us directly, or you can mail your payment to us. Please keep in mind that, if you choose to mail your payment, we can only accept a payment as timely if it has a postmark made by the United States Postal Service (USPS) dated on or before 1/31/2019. If you use "Bill-Pay" from your bank, please be aware that the date you process your bill-pay request is not a valid USPS postmark, so you must recognize the risk of timely payment. Make sure you leave plenty of time for your payment to arrive at our office-- time is getting tight!
Two weeks ago, I shared with you that our neighbors at Fable Farms were working on a special project; after having successfully raised about 50 chicks this past December in their heated greenhouse and are looking to raise 400 more who will start laying by early spring 2019 in what they are calling their "Chickstarter." Consider helping them by supporting their Kickstarter campaign (they are more than halfway there with 11 days to go!) or by signing up for a Farm Card and shopping at their weekend market. Check out their website for more information on these and other initiatives taking place right in our backyard.
We have a lot going on in Town this weekend, starting at the Ossining Boat and Canoe Club tonight! Town Historian Scott Craven (yes, the very same of Eaglefest fame!) will be giving a talk on the Critters of the Hudson Valley-- come at 7PM and learn some interesting facts about our animal friends that walk, crawl and fly around our area. If you've never heard Scott give a talk, you are in for a treat.
Then tomorrow, come check out the official opening of The Tasty Table in the space on Campwoods previously occupied by the Wobble Cafe. The new spot opened a few weeks back, and I have had several opportunities to try their cuisine-- they are a welcome addition to Ossining and we wish them luck!
Later that evening, Westchester Collaborative Theater will host their Midwinter Rock to Rap Dance Party featuring DJ Johnny J, a local Ossining resident and popular live event DJ for many decades. Come dance off your post-holiday blues and boogie with your friends and neighbors, starting at 6:30PM down at 23 Water Street. Tickets are $20 at the door, and there will be a cash bar and refreshments available. Visit wctheater.org for more info.
Then on Sunday afternoon (January 27th-- ignore the date on the flyer!), head to the Ossining Public Library for the re-scheduled Armen Donelian Jazz Trio (it was originally scheduled for last weekend)-- same time, same place, just a week later!
On Thursday, January 31st, we have two important opportunities for you to interaction with your elected officials, right here in Ossining. Assemblywoman Sandy Galef will hold a Town Meeting at the Ossining Public Library at 7PM. Sandy will share what she's been working on for the 95th Assembly District, and she and her staff will be on hand to listen to your concerns, answer your questions, and hear about what your priorities are for our community.
Right down the hill at the Joseph G. Caputo Community Center, Westchester County Executive George Latimer will be holding a Public Forum, co-sponsored by IFCA and Neighbors Link, to hear what you think about the availability, accessibility and affordability of housing in Westchester County. This forum will take place between 6PM and 8PM. Be sure to come and make your voice heard by Westchester County as they draft their housing needs assessment.
Then on Saturday, February 2nd, The Lantern Gift Shop at St. Paul's on the Hill (Ganung Drive) will host their annual Valentine's Day Sale and Bake Sale from 10AM to 3PM. Stop in to pick up a gift for your sweetie, and maybe some cookies for yourself. No sweetie? No problem. More cookies for you.
Finally, although a way out, mark your calendar for Trivia Night with the Ossining Children’s Center. On Sunday, February 10th between 4 and 7PM, come down to Demeter’s Tavern & Sports Bar in Tarrytown and test your knowledge against other teams (bring your own team or come ready to make some new friends!) Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door, and all proceeds go to benefit the Ossining Children’s Center. Click here to learn more and get your early bird tickets.
I want to end by sharing that we got some difficult news over the long weekend-- our good friend and colleague Penny Markowitz-Moses passed away after a brave battle with cancer. Penny grew up in Ossining, graduated from Ossining High School, and was at various times an Ossining Village Trustee and served as Deputy Mayor. Penny and her late husband Albert Moses, for whom an annual Ossining Rotary scholarship is named, were pillars of the Ossining community, and Penny's loss is a great one. We will remember her energy, her spirit, and her determination, and she will be missed by many. We also send our deep sympathies to Judge Nancy Quinn Koba who lost her dear mother, Marie Martorana, last weekend.